SI Vault
Introduction to An African Journal
Ray Cave
December 20, 1971
When Ernest Hemingway died in 1961 several unpublished manuscripts of consequence were left in his estate. These included two novels, a few short stories and one extraordinary work of nonfiction, African Journal, excerpts of which begin on the following pages and will continue in two successive issues of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. The manuscript is immense by Hemingway standards—200,000 words—and represents some 16 months of his writing time between 1954 and 1956, though he was often interrupted, most notably in October 1954 when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was obviously pleased with his African book as it progressed. At one point he said of it that he was writing "maybe better than I ever have...truly going wonderfully." His enthusiasm of the moment may or may not have been justified, but in retrospect two distinguished claims can be made for African Journal: major passages approach or equal Hemingway's prose at its finest, and revealed for the first time in his own words is a Hemingway quite different from his public image; his philosophies had mellowed, and the seeds of his discontent been sown.
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December 20, 1971

Introduction To An African Journal

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In these excerpts some stringent editing rules were followed. Each linespace or large capital letter marks either a major cut in the original text or the start of a new chapter. Each ellipsis marks a lesser cut. There have been a few deletions of profanity, all marked by dashes, in conformance with the long-established policies of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. No other changes have been made, except for the normal spelling and punctuation corrections that Hemingway would have expected from any publisher. The text throughout "Miss Mary's Lion" (our title for the first two parts) appears exactly in the order that it did in the original. The illustration, too. is completely faithful to the original situation. Artist Jack Brusca worked, in every case, from photographs taken by either Mary or Ernest Hemingway on the 1953 safari.

Writers are crazy, says Hemingway in African Journal.

He is asked if that is true of all writers.

"Only the good ones," he answers.

What follows, as the author of Green Hills, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Ma-comber writes once more of Africa, is very sane madness.

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